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(c) Arike van de Water 2007-2009





Tear

This is Terra, Earth's mirror. Not all is well, or good. Good is not relative. Good does not rest. It's real, absolute, but above all, absolutely not what you'd expect it to be. Now, it has chosen its champion.

Kitari was a girl, before he became big, blue and muscly. After he flees his hometown, in tears over losing his best friend, he must roam the world to restore whatever has gone awry. He befriends Vashti, a divorced woman down on her luck who just won't leave him alone, and Leah, headstrong mother of too many children.

But the authorities, especially inspector Peudeveu, pursue him closely, eager to capture and question the rascal who dares to hinder their plans at every turn. So between accidentally blowing up public property and comforting kids, Kitari must somehow remain invisible. Will he ever be able to go home? This is a story of heroes, helpful damsels and hair-raising high places.

Excerpt

The pawn shop looked a lot shabbier than the one she'd last visited. She hoped she would find better pickings here. “Hello?”

A friendly lady, grey-haired and round, bustled down an aisle to the counter beside the door. “How can I help you, dear?” This was promising.

Vashti took a deep breath and explained what she was about.

“A sale? Oh!” The lady's eyes widened at the sight of the bracelet. “Oh!” The exclamation was a shrill puff of purest excitement. “Ooooh...” This one went lower and more drawn out. “Oh.” Low and conspiritorial. “This needs a cup of tea and a good conversation, I think? Would you care to accompany me to the back room?”

Vashti nodded, glad for the offer. She was starting to get thirsty. “Sure.” So she and the elderly lady settled down in a chamber completely full of knick-knacks, every single one of them related to sheep.

888

Several hours of chit-chat later, Vashti and Mrs Trickadee had become good friends. No sale, or even a mention of one, had been made yet, but that did not seem to matter in this room. Time was an event, not a progression of ticking seconds, in this space with lambs dancing on strings from the ceiling. A grazing ewe with young forming the table and a seat for Mrs Trickadee, who flitted about so much she barely ever sat down. The couch Vashti was seated on was a field of green, clouds of white in every possible formation on it. “Embroidered that myself, you know. The green is from Leah's, lasts forever. Has she installed you well there?” Vashti was having some trouble keeping up with the conversation, since Mrs Trickadee flitted through the conversation as much as she did around the room.

“Those sons of her have grown into fine young man. Saw Dan myself last Wednesday on the market, carrying his mother's vegetables. Very attentive. I always though every man should be that attentive. My late husband was too, you know.” The only subject that came back with a steady regularity was Mrs Trickadee's late husband. “Oh, look at the time!” cried she, emphasising the statement with another peal of “Oh!”

Vashti blinked in question at her hostess. “It's almost the end of the afternoon. Your husband will wonder where you are. He's probably also such a gallant specimen, yes?” At Vashti's nod, more an automatic confirmation than with any real thought of Kitari, she continued. “It's almost time for the game, too. And it won't be safe after that, oh, no.” This was one of the conspiritial ohs. The ones Mrs Trickadee used with intrigue, taboos and real danger. Vashti didn't think this was a case of gossip. So she rose and thanked Mrs Trickadee.

“No trouble, oh!” This was a peal again. “We still need to agree on a price for your bracelet. For my eyes have been on it avariciously this whole time, of course.” Vashti wondered how that could have been, since they'd been on the tea pot, all the things she'd pulled out to show to Vashti, Vashti's skin when she inspected the colour minutely to decide whether “milky chocolate” or “creamy coffee” would be a better description. After she'd decided in favour of the coffee, she'd gone off to make some to show Vashti how exactly like it was, and after that there'd been more talking. But Vashti would gladly agree to the avarice if that made the price any higher. She needed the money, after all.

“Goodness, oh, let's see where I left my hoard, then.” She bustled off through one of the many doorways in her shop. It spilled over into several rooms, some of which were off limits by some mysterious designation Vashti had not discovered, and some of which were open to the public. It went in degrees, too, so the room she'd brought Vashti to, while not exactly forbidden, was definitely one that one didn't enter without supervision.

She came back with a small pouch that tinkled pleasantly. She opened it into one of Vashti's hands. Silver coins that formed a very fair counterpart to her bracelet gleamed in the soft glow coming from the skylight. It was almost dark enough to light a candle, Vashti noticed. It really must be getting late. The best part was, they had designations on them that tied them to various different places.

They traded, both happy, and then Vashti started to say goodbye. Only Mrs Trickadee decided that she really would get lost without an escort, and then went to get a light coat, which turned out to be a long wool cape and a broad-brimmed hat in matching aubergine. They stepped out into the twilight. Several houses had already lighted hearths or candles, since light glowed from their windows. They went along the main road, skirting a police force herding along some prisoners. Their dark red uniforms indicated they belonged to the military subdepartment from the general enforcement organisation. Vashti froze when she recognised one of people in cuffs. “Gad!” she breathed.